Friday, 26 November 2010


Wales pledges to keep education allowance
Friday 26 November 2010
By Lizzie Cocker

Campaigners called on the Con-Dem coalition to follow the Welsh Assembly government's lead today and save the education maintenance allowance.

The call came after thousands of school and college students protested against plans to scrap the allowance of up to £30 a week, which has been seen as a direct assault on the poorest young people.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "The allowance is a vital lifeline and can be the difference between people being able to study or being priced out.

"Withdrawing this allowance would hit some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, at a time when we have one of the worst participation rates for post-16 education in the developed world."

But the government has insisted that the cuts will go ahead in England.

However a Welsh Assembly government spokesman reaffirmed its commitment to the allowance in Wales.

He said: "We're pleased to confirm that we are retaining the scheme which benefits learners and helps improve retention rates in education in Wales."

National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts spokeswoman Joanna Pinto, who has been heavily involved in organising the recent student mobilisations, said: "The Welsh Assembly should be an example to the coalition government in England.

"If it wants a well-run society, it needs to take care of its youngsters.

"That is what the Welsh are doing as the maintenance allowance is very much a part of that."

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates praised the assembly's "understanding of what measures are effective in supporting and enabling young people to remain in education. Unlike the coalition government which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

Outrage over the mounting evidence of extreme police brutality during Wednesday's nationwide protests has continued to grow.

The London freesheet Metro published images today of a police medic spraying a halon fire extinguisher into the faces of a crowd of protesters who were kettled in Whitehall. Halon devices are banned for civilian use and have been linked to a range of symptoms including unconsciousness.

Ms Pinto urged people who had been victims of police violence to make complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

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